The Berean Expositor
Volume 43 - Page 210 of 243
Index | Zoom
3: 6 - 18.
pp. 236 - 240
We are dealing with a section of this epistle (3: 6-15) where the Apostle Paul has to
reprimand some who were ceasing to work and interfering in the affairs of others. He
could draw the attention of the Thessalonian believers to his own example:
"For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us, for we behaved not ourselves
disorderly among you. Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with
labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you. Not
because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us"
(3: 7-9).
The word `follow' in verses 7 and 9 is mimeomai from mimos, an actor, a mimic. It
only occurs elsewhere in Heb. 13: 7 and III John 11, where the R.V. correctly
translates it "imitate".
The Apostle could always  draw attention to the way he
combined doctrine and practice. He had set before the Thessalonian church a Christ-like
example, working night and day at his trade of leather work, so that he might not be a
financial burden to them. He had previously drawn their attention to this in his first
epistle (I Thess. 2: 9, 10). At the same time he reminds them that he had the apostolic
authority (power, II Thess. 3: 9) to be supported by them, but he waived it in order to be
an example in all things. The Greek reads literally, `but that we might give ourselves a
type to you'.
"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not
work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you
disorderly (ataktos), working not at all, but are busybodies" (10, 11).
The Apostle quotes what is apparently a Jewish proverb based on Gen. 3: 19. Those
who refused to work, had no claim to receive food. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient
East) sees Paul borrowing a piece of workshop morality, and it was plainly needed.
There has always been a tendency to regard labour as a curse, something to be avoided as
far as possible, and much of the labour trouble in the world today has its roots in this
mistaken idea. But when Adam sinned, God cursed the ground for his sake (Gen. 3: 17),
for the worst possible thing for a sinner, is to have nothing to do to occupy his time.
Such a situation always results in boredom and further declension, and the Apostle is
concerned that this should not spread any further in the church at Thessalonica. The
imperfect tense of the verb `command' shows that more than once he had urged such to
diligence. Again he uses a play upon words, ergazomenous alla periergazomenous.
Moffatt renders it well, "busybodies instead of busy", that is, minding everyone's
business but their own, and this as a result of idling and sponging upon others.
"Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that
with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in
well-doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and have no
company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but
admonish him as a brother" (3: 12-15).